The Buffalo Sabres hopped on a plane Friday, to begin a five-game Western Conference road trip, which gets underway this evening in Arizona, against the Coyotes. Buffalo is coming off a 6-1 drubbing on home ice at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, so they should be looking to right the ship. Without further ado, let’s dive into this evenings tilt.
The Coyotes boast some of the better young talent in the league, with players like Dylan Strome, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, and Clayton Keller, to name a few. They have had a relatively slow start to the season, having been shut out in their first two games, and scraping out a 3-2 shootout win against the Ducks on Wednesday night. However, they had one of the best stretches to close out the year last season, going 17-12-3 in their final 32 games of the season. Arizona also got some stellar goaltending in that time frame from Antti Raanta. He played to a 21-17-6 record last season, with a 2.24 GAA, .930 SV%, and three shutouts. He’s not one to be overlooked as the Sabres begin their Western Conference swing.
The Sabres have had a roller coaster type of season, even though it’s only three games old. After looking eerily similar to last season’s Sabres in the opener vs. Boston, Eichel and Co. played very well against both the Rangers, and Golden Knights to bring their record to 2-1, their first time over .500 since 2013. Trying to build off that momentum, they couldn’t capitalize on any of the seven power-plays against the Avalanche, and lost 6-1. It’s far too early to call Saturday’s game a must-win, but it certainly has that feeling, as to not let the season spiral out of control in mid-October.
Tonight’s game should be a good indication as to how well Buffalo can respond after losing handily. If the Sabres can come out of the gate with speed and physicality, as well as capitalizing on the power-play, they have a great chance to get back over .500 on the season, and it will certainly give them confidence to win on the road. Also, it will be imperative for the Sabres to shut down the Coyotes’ young talent up front, and to keep Chychrun and Oliver Ekman-Larsson from producing on the blueline. All in all, it should make for a great late night contest.
- The Sabres are 12-3-1 against the Coyotes in the last 16 head to head matches. Buffalo is outscoring the Coyotes 53-34 in those matches as well.
- The Sabres come into the game at 2-2 on the season. A win would bring them above .500 for the season.
- Sabres rookie defenceman Rasmus Dahlin obtained his first NHL point, Thursday night versus Colorado. He assisted on Nathan Beaulieu’s second period tally.
- The Sabres begin a five game road trip, beginning this evening in Arizona. They will also make stops in Vegas, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim, before returning home on October 25th, versus Montreal.
- Sabres Captain Jack Eichel has nine career points (three goals, six assists) in six career games versus the Coyotes.
- The Coyotes will wear their alternate “Kachina” jerseys this evening.
- Tonight’s goaltenders should be Linus Ullmark and Antti Raanta, but nothing official has been announced.